|I took this at "Great Chefs of LA 2009" kidney foundation benefit|
When I think of indulging in cheese, its not about a nice slice of Havarti added to my fresh turkey sandwich or a whipped cream cheese on a warm bagel. Of course I enjoy a slice of cheese in my sandwich, but I don't classify that as "indulgence". Oh no.
When I "indulge" in cheese, we are usually talking full on cheese platters, accompanied by slices of warm toasted baguette, gourmet crackers, dried and fresh fruits, nuts, jams and even Nutella. Cheese for me is an indulgence because I love it and I need to have a variety in one tasting whenever I am in the mood for cheese.
My perfect cheese platter must consist of the following and as a rule absolutely positively be shared and enjoyed with friends while drinking great wine!
Le Delice De Bourgogne. Wow, wow, wow and wow!!!!!!!!!!! Pure Ecstasy. SO WHAT IF ITS 75% FAT? Why do you think I share cheese with friends? This triple-cream brie-like (but so not a brie) hails from France. I never doubted that it would, as only the "French" can create the passion, moaning and groaning that comes with its consumption. The process of making this cheese involves adding cream to full fat cow's milk. Cream, cream and more cream how can it not be amazing?
Buttery, smooth, rich, decadent, soft, delicate, there is no end to the pleasure-inducing adjectives that can be used describe it. True cheese nirvana. I glass of Champagne or a light, fruity white wine is just heavenly with it. I love to spread it on a crisp, warm piece of baguette with a touch of Nutella and sprinkle of sea salt OR on a great cracker with a little fig spread OMG OMG.
2. Next we're off to the Netherlands for Parrano Robusto (aged 9months)-not to be confused with Parrano Originale (also yummy but aged 5 months). This nutty favorite is a type of Gouda and is always on my cheese platter. The flavor boils down to this: If the Italian Stallion Parmesano Reggiano had an affair with a Dutch Hottie this cheese would be their "love child".. No incident its marketed as "A dutch cheese that thinks its Italian" http://www.parrano.com/. Whatever the comparison, for me its the perfect balance of nutty, spicy, sweet and a little crunchy. I have it as is, just crumble after crumble of nutty perfection washed down with a Pinto Grigio with apple and pear undertones.
3. Back to France for another favorite Fleur Verte a type of goat cheese. What is it about the French and cheese, they just get it right on so many levels, every single time...at least for me. This is just so so good and so soft and so beautiful. Fleur Verte is rolled in fresh herbs like thyme and tarragon and pretty pink peppercorns. The flavor is tangy and at times citrus-like. I think when it comes to this cheese everyone experiences it differently and new flavors come up in every bite. I adore this cheese because its so pretty and a little sweet you can just tell how much love went into making it.
4. Last but not least the Etorki, a sheep's milk cheese that hails from the Basque region of France. Pleasantly salty, fruity and smooth when eaten, Etorki is delicious. I discovered it several years ago at a Whole Foods market next door to our house, and have been eating it since. The flavor is mild yet complex and whenever I put it on my cheese platter everyone seems to really enjoy it. I think it pairs well with Pinot Noir (some may disagree and prefer a white) Oh and I almost forgot, since my cheese plate MUST have at least 2 types of pate, Etorki is a favorite when eaten with a bit of my duck pate on a wheat cracker, YUM.
Some Extras Carrr's crackers http://www.carrscrackers.com/index.shtml (my fave is wheat-but get the assorted for your cheese plate), Fig Spread, hands down Dalmatia makes the most incredible one as well as a Ficoco (a fig spread with a bit of chocolate that's to die) http://www.dalmatiaimports.com/Default.aspx
I always find it at whole foods.
Next we need to have fresh fruit. Ripe, large, juicy green seedless grapes and slices of crisp, tangy granny smith apple. Last but not least a pate, 2 types preferably. Duck Foie Gras Mousse with Port Wine and Duck Foie Gras Mousse. Believe me that the euphoria that you will experience in your mouth when you try even a little bit of the pate is worth going out there and searching the gourmet markets and online stores such as this one http://www.gourmetfoodstore.com/default.asp?mscssid=H0C58PFM3WCE9HP617LW7QFQ6KSC5MNE for it is certain to become your favorite and a must near if not on your cheese plate!